Biaggi Wins Australian 500 GP

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Italian Honda heroes Loris Capirossi (Emerson Honda Pons NSR500) andValentino Rossi (Nastro Azzurro Honda NSR500) played a starring role inthe season-ending Australian GP, taking second and third behindcompatriot and race winner Max Biaggi (Yamaha)...

The Italian trio were just three of a pack of ten riders fighting for thelead during the spectacular 27 lap race. At half distance the top 12 menwere covered by just two seconds and the race looked to be anybody's. Butin the final few laps it was Biaggi, Capirossi and Rossi who took control,touching several times as they fought for the fast line around thehigh-speed Australian circuit.

Biaggi led into the last lap and thoughCapirossi did sneak ahead at Honda corner, he couldn't make the move stickand crossed the finish line 0.182 seconds behind his compatriot. Rossifollowed a further tenth of a second down, with Alex Barros (Emerson HondaPons NSR500) another two tenths back in fourth.

"My bike set-up was very good today, so my tyres worked well all the way tothe finish," said Capirossi. "I fought as hard as I could, but in the endMax just got it. I've enjoyed this season, my comeback to 500s, but I had afew too many injuries to challenge for the title."

The changes of lead in this unforgettable epic were too numerous to mention- Biaggi, Capirossi, Barros, Garry McCoy (Yamaha), Regis Laconi (Yamaha)and Carlos Checa (Yamaha) all led at one time or another, Checa falling andLaconi running off the track after ramming Capirossi. The Frenchman gotgoing again to finish 11th.

Rossi never led but he believed he had his end-of-race move timed toperfection; except that the closeness of the combat meant he was unable tosee his pit board during the crucial final few laps.

"Max and Loris were fighting very hard, so my plan was to attack on thelast lap but I didn't see the last-lap board!" he said. "Anyway, I'm secondoverall in my first 500 year, I won two races and got more podiums thananyone else, so I'm happy."

Biaggi's second win on the year moved him to third overall, behind Rossiand World Champion Kenny Roberts (Suzuki), who finished seventh today, 3.8seconds down on the winner.

"That was a real race, win or lose, it was so exciting," said Biaggi."Everyone was fighting so hard from the first corner and there was a lot oftouching later on."

McCoy ended up fifth, over a second down on Barros after surviving a veryclose-call in the early stages. Urged on by the crowd, he did nose aheadonce but didn't have enough end-of-race speed. Two seconds back came NorickAbe (Yamaha), Roberts and Jeremy McWilliams (Aprilia). McWilliams startedthe race from pole but suffered clutch slip away from the grid that put him15th into the first corner.

The last day of the 2000 season wasn't a great one for '99 World ChampionAlex Crivillé (Repsol Honda NSR500), who crashed unhurt in the earlystages. His team-mate Tadayuki Okada (Repsol Honda NSR500) rode well in thethick of the front-running pack and was the fastest man on track at onestage, but he was ninth at the chequered flag.

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